Made in SWVA Manufacturing Tours

On May 25 & 26, 2016, a Made in SWVA (#MadeinSWVA) two day tour of ten manufacturing facilities was provided by SVAM and the SVAM Center of Excellence. Southwest Virginia Community College (SWCC) Career Coaches, Instructors, and Mechatronics Students were given a unique insight into the production, assembly, and/or fabrication of products, made – right here in southwest Virginia. The event was coordinated and directed by Stephanie Muncy Surrett, Director of SVAM-CoE, and Lennie Gail Mitcham, Executive Director of SVAM. Stephanie Surrett explained that the “Made in SWVA tours are part of the SVAM and the SVAM Center of Excellence initiative to improve and advance the image of manufacturing and the great jobs they offer.”
On Wednesday, May 25, the group toured the following facilities: Tadano Mantis Corporation, Richlands – develops and produces hydraulic telescopic boom crawler cranes; PBE Group, North Tazewell – a global electronic engineering and manufacturing company, specializing in safety and production systems; ABB, Bland – manufactures and services power and distribution transformers, worldwide; Somic America, Wytheville – machines and assembles steering and suspension parts for Toyota; and Pepsico, Wytheville – manufactures and distributes a variety of Pepsi products.
The group continued touring the following facilities on Thursday, May 26: Steel Fab, Lebanon – manufactures and distributes pressurized tanks; General Engineering, Abingdon – engineers, manufactures, and repairs hydraulic cylinders; Utility Trailer Manufacturing Company, Glade Spring – manufactures customized dry van trailers; General Dynamics Ordinance and Tactical Systems, Marion – designs, produces, and distributes aircraft structures; ZF TRW, Atkins – designs, integrates, and produces all major steering technologies, as well as a major player in linkage and suspension systems.
Stephanie Muncy Surrett and Lennie Gail Mitcham prearranged and provided information about each manufacturing facility to the members of the group. Upon arrival at each facility, everyone received safety procedure instructions, as well as necessary Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), which usually included safety glasses, hard hats, ear plugs, yellow vests, and in some cases hair nets. As the participants proceeded to walk through each facility, they were given detailed explanations of the production processes beginning with the raw materials, assembly, and/or fabrication. In addition, their tour guides answered their employment related questions, which included the following topics: training requirements; hiring practices; number of shifts; hours of work per week; pay rates and bonuses; promotions; and fringe benefits. This type of learning experience was extremely educational. Now, the participants have a new perspective about the world of manufacturing; and most importantly, they can share their findings with others to let them know that there are “manufacturing jobs available” – in southwest Virginia.
“After the miles they traveled, the career coaches, instructors and students… earned the title of Road Warrior,” declared Stephanie Surrett, who drove the career coaches and instructors.
-Article written by Diana Stinson, Employment Specialist for Southwest Virginia Community College